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Album Review

On her second album as the Last Town Chorus, Megan Hickey continues to explore the sound of the lap steel guitar, moving it into unfamiliar, spooky terrain creating gloomy, atmospheric vignettes long on mood and existential angst. The feeling is almost ambient, dirge-like tunes that combine folk's bleak emotional realism, alt-rock's artistic approach, and a moaning, lonesome ambience that's all her own. Her vocals have that broken little girl quality that many female folksingers have, but Hickey doesn't use it as a coy come-on. She really does sound broken, or at least about to break down and cry. She draws out her words and slurs syllables, just as she draws out extended, forlorn notes from her 1940s vintage lap steel guitar. The songs often flow together, making the album sound like an achingly sad suite of songs moving slowly to some unknown but probably dark conclusion. The album's stark production (Hickey produced and engineered the album herself) contributes to the record's overall mute, desolate feel. "Wintering in Brooklyn" is the closest Hickey comes to an actual country song, but it's as much rock as country, with a steel solo that ratchets up the emotional ante to an unbearable intensity. The song takes an arch look at the rich folk who fly south and west when the weather changes. "It's Not Over" has our heroine following her lost lover and new girlfriend, repeating the tag line — "It's not over till I say it's over" — but the impression is more of a masochist than a stalker. The album's hit is Hickey's reinvention of Bowie's "Modern Love," a track that was used in a 2006 episode of ABC's Grey's Anatomy. It's taken at the same funereal pace as the rest of the album, and her defeated phrasing makes it sound even more cynical and hopeless than the original. The despondent character of this album isn't for everyone, but those who like to wallow in gloom and depression will find Hickey a kindred soul. ~ j. poet, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Love it

Boy, this album sends me...

Wow

She's like the Mazzy Star of the 2000's. But with more depth and feeling than mere shoegazing. Put headphones on and you could swear you were at a performance. I like a lot of music, a lot of folk and alternative rock. I like raw and real music. But rather than rip me open and make me look inside, this music literally picks me up and transports me somewhere. Where you go will depend on you but you'd find it hard to not go somewhere as this is mood music if there ever was such. It sets a mood and I disagree that the mood will be gloomy and depressing. I feel many other things listening to this creation. I go back to the 90s and rock out or I go grunge in a coffee shop in San Francisco. Sometimes it does feel like gloomy rainy day reflections. But depressed is not a term I would apply to this enjoyable mental journey.

Biography

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Last Town Chorus is the nom de musique of contemporary singer/songwriter/lap steel guitarist Megan Hickey (born near Pittsburgh, PA on June 26, 1974). Although she was always interested in music, Hickey didn't get serious about playing and writing until she moved to New York City in 1999. "I grew up in a little town and my childhood was quite idyllic," the redheaded singer says. "I like it more now, in the rear view mirror, but Pittsburg was a livable sweet city. In the '80s the steel business came...
Full Bio
Wire Waltz, The Last Town Chorus
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